The little chat sessions that Alex Trebek does with Jeopardy contestants coming out of the first break are never not awkward. This is somewhat understandable, as visibly nervous people trying to pass along humorous anecdotes about themselves in 15-20 seconds is not exactly a recipe for silky smooth television. But it is often a recipe for magic, usually because something has gone disastrously awry. Last night was one of those nights.
Quick background: The show is currently in the middle of its Battle of the Decades, in which champions from years past return to compete against each other. Last night featured three contestants from the 2000s named Russ, Larissa, and Tom. After pleasant anecdotes from Russ and Larissa about spam and academic challenges, respectively, Alex got to Tom, and they had the following conversation, which I have helpfully transcribed:
ALEX: Tom Cavanaugh… million dollars at stake in this tournament. And if you win it you’re going to spend a lot of it to work on a documentary. What’s the documentary going to be about?
TOM: It’s on sweatshop labor.
ALEX: In our country.
TOM: In our country and around the world. So I went to Bangladesh about 10 years ago and toured a garment factory, and I thought… what if I saw a shirt I was wearing being made by these people? So it’s to try to put a face on who makes our clothes. Maybe you can find out the names of the 8 year olds who made your fancy suit there, Alex.